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Lambics and Flanders reds

Looking to brew a beer with bugs. Either a Lambic or Flanders Red. A bit confused about what to brew in. There seems to be three options. Listened to Jamils podcast on Flanders Reds and he suggests using a plastic bucket and letting it sit for a year or more there. His podcast on Lambics is more sketchy and does not say what he ferments in. There are guys who seem to stick a skinny oak stick into the bong and have it go into the beer in a glass carboy -this scares me. There are others who seemed to use an large oak plug in the glass carboy, not sticking into the beer. Others seem to just use a regular glass carbot with an airlock

Anyone out there who has brewed these types of beers and has any insight?

Brewed/brewing both. I generally ferment in a bucket for a month, then transfer to a carboy with airlock for long term secondary. I don’t worry about transferring all the yeast cake, the Sacch yeast is done by then anyway and the bugs/Brett carry over nicely.

I do have an 11gal oak barrel full of Flanders red, I pull 3gal every six months or so and replace with regular beer. I’ve done two pulls so far and each is very tasty. I’ll vary each beer going back in a little just to make each time a little different.

I don’t think you need to worry about having enough air exposure to get an acetic note, it’ll have enough of that. Its really not something you want to promote in my opinion. If adding oak for flavor I’d put some cubes in the carboy.

That’s a great idea with the barrel, Tom, thanks for sharing. Do you ever drain it completely, then add something entirely new, or do you just continue blending?

Thanks Lennie

Like that idea about an oak barrel. Maybe get one some day.

Do you have any opinion on using a turbid mash schedule…I am not scared by it have done decoction mashing a few times. Have any recipes that you would be willing to share?

I haven’t drained it but then I only filled it a year ago, the idea is to keep it full like a sherry solera. That way you get a blended beer that has some young and old beer. I had wine in the barrel before I put beer in it. You can get a cheap barrel from Vadai, google them.

I haven’t done a true turbid mash and I honestly don’t think it matters that much. In fact my first kriek was the NB extrat kit and the stuff was excellent after a year. People who knew sour beers couldn’t believe it was that kit. I’ve done mashes where I’ve mashed high and have even added a little flour to the boil but I think theres plenty for the bugs to live on from the 25% of the dissolved solids that does’t get fermented by Sacch yeast. As for recipes, for the lambic/kriek I make something about 60% 2-row and 40% wheat malt (or use unmalted wheat). For the Flanders red I go with something closer to a dubbel recipe. On this last Flanders pull, I added a little port wine and bottled with pomegranate molasses to give it a little extra complexity. The first pull had some wine character from the zinfandel that was in the barrel prior to the beer.

I’ve also added dregs from good Belgian sours although this is a little dicey because you don’t really know what the ratio of the various microbes are. I’ve fermented small batches with dregs and sometimes it’ll eat the enamel off your teeth its so sour. Good blending beers though.

My advice is to get started, it takes nearly a year to get the stuff to a really good funky place and at two years it mellows and peaks.

I have brewed several Flander’s Red by myself, and with my club. My best has come from several not quite perfect batches blended together. Our bourbon barrel batch was the worst. It was good for 1 month and then developed an acetone flavor (after being in the barrel for 3 years.) Our club has several barrels and we are making good solera beers, but I don’t think you could put them in any specific style guideline.

I would recommend:
Brew a beer that is on the malty side and stick with less than 20 IBU. I don’t think bitter and sour go together well. (I don’t consider the new generation of hoppy brett beers to be sour.)

Use a carboy to get a clean fermentation. Use a neutral yeast. Pitch some brett if you want to, but it is not necessary. I did a Sour Red tasting a few years ago. Two or three of the beers had brett, and the others did not.

Transfer to secondary and put plastic wrap over the carboy instead of an air lock. You will get acetic without any crud falling into the carboy. I would put some French oak chips in the carboy. You want vanilla and not tannin from the oak so don’t use American oak chips.

If you don’t get exactly what you want, you can brew a new batch and blend it in. The good thing about these beers is that they age pretty well and don’t have problems with oxidation. You just have to be patient and creative.

don’t put oak in your bong. just sayin’. :lol:

Do a search for liddil and lambic for some good info.

So far in my sour beers I’ve been cheating by brewing and fermenting a base beer first then innoculating with bugs. So far I’ve only drunk one - a soured stout - which I innoculated from Orval dregs. It turned out fantastic. One of my favourite beers.

On the fermentor question, the impression that I have is that real belgian fermentors/barrels have quite a bit of oxygen permeability. Therefore I’ve been doing my secondary for my kriek in a bucket, waiting for the cherries to disintegrate. Unfortunately it’s a long process, but I’ll get back to you with the results in a year or so…

Ed LOL I meant to write bung not bong.

Your thread got me thinking of a lambic I had in a carboy now for well over a year. Last night I racked it to a new carboy and added some sour cherry syrup and some new Sacch yeast. Haven’t used the syrup before, we’ll see how it works. I got it at a Middle Eastern grocery. The 34 oz bottle had 1.8lb of sugar in it so its going to add some significant ABV. The lambic tasted good, plenty of sour and funk.

Ended up doing a 10 gallon batch of Lambic. 14 lbs of Pils 2-row and 6 lbs of whole grain wheat I got at the local Co-op. Did a cereal mash on the wheat with a pound of the 2-row(heated to 120 then 143 then boiled for 15 mins). Used about 10 qts of filtered water. Then on the stove took hot cereal mash and added 10 qts cold water and rest of grain to get to a target 122 protein rest. I overshot by 9 degrees so added some ice water which only got temp down a couple degrees so just let it do protein rest a little hot. Then raised to 140 with boiling water and took off 4 qts of the mash water and boiled to denature. Then raised to 153 with added boiling water and direct heat took off 2 more qts and added to still near boiling hot 4 qts I denatured earlier. I tossed the main mash at this point carefully into my mash tun and let mash about an hour and sparged with 185 degree water. Boiled for 90 mins and hit FG of 1.053 which was exactly what I was shooting for. Lucky as it was a very long day with lots of guessing on water volumes.

Put WYEAST #3278 Lambic in one carboy and 3763 Roselare in the other. Plan on just letting them sit in two glass Carboys for about a year with no secondary. Hope for the best :slight_smile:

Sounds great, now hurry up and wait! And call this thread up in a year when you have a taste.

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